The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made a change for “Highly Vaccinated Voyages” as part of its voluntary COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships. The update means that more unvaccinated guests will be allowed to cruise, such as children.
CDC Lowers Threshold for Unvaccinated Passengers
The CDC has further updated its voluntary program for cruise ships, which all the major cruise lines that operate in the U.S. are following. In the change made on May 5, 2022, CDC now says, “Changed cruise ship vaccination status thresholds from 95% of passengers to 90% of passengers.“
Changing the threshold down to 90% allows cruise lines operating under “highly Vaccinated” Voyages to allow more unvaccinated guests to sail (applies to 5 years of age and older).
Currently, all the cruise lines opting into the CDC’s program are under “Highly Vacctined” sailings, including Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line.
Previously, the threshold was 95% for unvaccinated guests. The threshold remains the same at 95% when it comes to the crew members.
Isolation Guidance Changed
In addition to lowering the threshold for vaccinated passengers, the CDC also changed its guidance on isolation onboard cruise ships.
Isolation rooms onboard are no longer required to have negative pressure, but the locations must still be predesignated. Guests are exempt from being isolated in the cabin within 36 hours of disembarkation.
The Cruise Lines International Association responded to the updates by the CDC, “CLIA-member cruise lines continue to provide one of the highest levels of COVID-19 mitigation for the traveling public with higher-vaccination rates and higher frequency of testing than most any other setting. We look forward to the further development of the program to bring greater alignment across the travel and tourism sector.“
Since the Omicron variant hit the cruise industry hard at the end of 2021 and early 2022, cruise ships have relatively been sailing successfully. Cruise ships operating in U.S. waters under the CDC program have safely allowed guests to cruise and deal with positive cases.
Requirements have slowly been relaxed over the past few months, including face masks no longer being required onboard or at terminals, more manageable testing timeframes on select sailings, and slightly more relaxed rules for shore excursions.
The hope will be that further relaxed rules come through over the coming months so that the cruise industry can make a full recovery.